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My Journey Through the Philippines in Pictures

This is my very last post about the Philippines – at least for now. My next trip to this gorgeous country is already in the works, and I can’t wait to visit all the places I didn’t make it to the first time around.bohol rice fieldsWhenever people ask me about my favorite places in South East Asia, I can’t stop gushing over the picture-perfect beaches I visited, the lush green islands with their scenic rice fields and softly swaying palm trees, a stark contrast to the urban sprawl of Manila which is rapidly turning into a modern, advanced city; rivaling Singapore and Bangkok with the number of skyscrapers and shopping malls that continue to emerge in the ever growing capital. When I sat in one of Manila’s third-wave coffee shops, located in one of the shiny fancy malls, after returning from Palawan, I couldn’t believe that a day earlier, I had shared the road with ox carts and that I didn’t even have cell phone reception in El Nido – now I was surrounded by people who were all glued to their smartphones again.bacuit archipelago boatsThe many faces of the Philippines were fascinating, the marine life breathtaking, the people welcoming and kind. But I’ll let the photos speak for themselves – follow my journey through the Philippines in pictures:flying into manila philippinesIt all started when I flew into Manila, and the capital couldn’t have been more surprising – I expected to hate it because everyone who had visited the city seemed to thoroughly dislike it. Read more about my time in Manila here: Living it up in Manila
bonifacio global city manilaFrom Manila, I flew to Boracay, because I was craving some beach time. I had been wanting to visit Boracay, famous for its ridiculously pretty White Beach, for years, and this travel dream finally came true.boracay island paradiseI spent hours just staring out at the water, listening to the sound of the softly clashing waves. For the first time in months, I was able to relax 100%.boracay white beach6As if a stunning 4-kilometer long beach with soft, powdery sand and crystal clear water weren’t enough, Boracay also boasts some of the most memorable sunsets I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Every single night! Read more about my time in Boracay here: Debauchery in Paradise: Letting loose in Boracayspider house boracay sunsetMy next stop was Bohol, a short flight from Boracay, which I added to my itinerary to meet these little guys:tarsier bohol philippinesTarsiers! The other attraction Bohol is famous for are the oddly shaped Chocolate Hills. I should have stayed longer to check out some of the beaches, but I was told there are nicer beaches in Siquijor, a nearby island reachable by ferry.chocolate hills boholYou can read more about my time in Bohol here: Tarsiers and chocolate hills in Bohol
bohol rice fields philippinesSiquijor was the one place in the Philippines that exceeded my expectations – by far!siquijor beachIt might have been the witchcraft (which Siquijor is famous for) that charmed me, or simply the incredible natural beauty of the island. Read more about this magical place here: Searching for magic in mystical Siquijorsiquijor waterfall philippinesFrom Siquijor, I took a ferry to Dumaguete, where I based myself to do what would be a highlight of my trip: Swimming with sea turtles in Apo Island!
sea turtle apo islandFor the stunning underwater life in all its glory, have a look at my Apo Island gallery on Flickr.

underwater world apo island philippines

The next island on my itinerary was sadly not just a quick ferry ride away – instead, it took me nearly 16 hours to get from Dumaguete to El Nido, and the trip there included buses, a ferry, a minivan, a plane and a taxi.

bacuit archipelago viewpointMy destination was worth the strenuous travel day though: Palawan, the crown jewel of the Philippines.island hopping el nidoI could go on and on about the incredibly picturesque beaches and lagoons of the Bacuit Archipelago off the coast of El Nido, but I let the pictures speak for themselves.el nido las cabanas beach

El Nido was indeed the grand finale to a fabulous journey, and you can read more about it (and marvel at more photos!) in these two posts:

bacuit archipelago boatFrom Palawan I flew back to Manila for a few days of city life after weeks of island and beach hopping, and got to know fancy speakeasy bars, indulged in scrumptious vegetarian food (a rare find on most of the islands I went to) and visited the historic district of Manila, Intramuros, before boarding my plane to Bangkok.intramuros manilaConsidering that the Philippines consist of more than 7,000 islands, I feel like I only got a small teaser of the country, but I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the country.siquijor palm treesIf you’re considering visiting the Philippines, check out my budget breakdown: How much does it cost to travel in the Philippines?, which also has some travel planning and money saving tips.el nido sunset

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17 Comments

  1. Oh I can’t wait! What month where you in Boracay? I heard from another blogger that there was a big green algae problem when she was there due to pollution and the water wasn’t safe to swim in (although people still were) this has kind of put me off from visiting when there are so many other amazing islands (with a lot less people) that I could visit instead

    1. Katie – From what I’ve heard the algae usually come in March and stay for a couple of months. Those happen to be busy months in Boracay (lots of Filipinos vacationing then), so it’s better to wait anyway πŸ™‚ After the typhoon season (November / December) is supposed to be the best time (not crazy busy yet).

  2. Makes me want to go back there so much! Unfortunately, I found the cities in the Philippines to be pretty ugly and dirty, but then I didn’t visit Manila, so maybe that’s different. That said, it’s worth going just for the beaches, right?!

    1. Sam – I agree, most of the cities are not pretty. But the beaches and the scenery make up for it πŸ˜‰ I didn’t find one city though that I thought was charming.

    1. Definitely! It’s soooooo pretty!! And coming from Boracay it felt good to have the beaches all to myself πŸ˜‰

  3. Hi Dani, I read your story about you and Jess and I had to say I was sad. But when I then browsed through some of your articles, I saw you are certainly lucky girl and I am now back lucky as well. πŸ™‚ I wish you all the best! BTW I like all these pictures! They are really amazing!

    1. Hi Julius, thank you for your comment πŸ™‚ Yes, I am lucky and I guess break-ups are just part of life.. Can’t be living the dream all the time, right? πŸ˜‰

  4. Hi Dani, I love your posts! Extremely insightful πŸ™‚

    So, I’m planning a trip to the Philippines (from Mumbai) in April 2016. I have a pretty ambitious itinerary and wanted to know your thoughts about it:
    Mumbai to Manila – Reach Manila (2nd April)
    Manila to Banaue / Batad – Leave 2nd April night and reach 3rd April (early morning)
    Stay in Batad – 3rd April
    Batad / Banaue to Manila – Leave 4th April night and reach Manila 5th April (early morning)
    Manila to Legaspi (Donsol) – Leave 5th April morning/noon and reach 5th April evening
    Stay in Donsol – 6th April
    Donsol/Legaspi to Cebu/Bohol – Leave 7th April morning and reach 7th April noon/evening
    Stay in Bohol – 8th April
    Bohol to Dumaguette – Leave 9th April morning and reach 9th April noon/evening
    Dumaguete to Apo Island – 10th April
    Dumaguete to Manila – 11th April
    Manila to Batanes – 12th April (early morning)
    Stay in Batanes – 12th April, 13th April
    Batanes to Manila – 14th April (early morning)
    Stay in Manila – 14th April
    Manila to Mumbai – 15th April

    What are your thoughts on this itinerary? Any suggestions would be more than welcome πŸ™‚

    1. Very ambitious indeed, Nina! πŸ˜€ I would probably skip a couple of stops and enjoy others more. Traveling in the Philippines is hard and frustrating at times. Almost every single one of my flights was delayed. I’d plan in some buffer time for that, for example. Going up to Banaue and Batad for two days only seems rushed to me – I suggest reading Alex’ posts about her trip up there to decide if you want to add on another day. Batanes is supposed to be beautiful but also very far out of the way.. I’d consider traveling to Malapascua (from Cebu) instead, to save you some time, and it’s just as beautiful. Just some food for thought πŸ™‚

  5. Just came across your blog and your Philippines posting! I love it!! I am a single mom and have a 7 year old boy. We went jet-setting off to the Philippines a few months ago and loved it. We arrived in Manila and submersed ourselves into culture and took the overnight ferry from Batangas to the little island outside of Boracay and then took little boats out to Boracay for some beach time. My son especially loved the Volcano in Tagatay ! We took a whole day to road trip up there from Manila. We had crepes at a darling Cafe and then drove down this windy tiny mountain road to a boat that took us across this volcanic lake. Once across there is horses you can rent to ride up to the top of the volcano. Such a neat experience and amazing views. Cannot wait to go back. Two weeks is NOT long enough to see all of the amazingness.
    Happy Travels to you and thank you for sharing!!

    1. Hi Caty, thank you so much for your comment! I love that you went to the Philippines with your son – amazing!! I can’t wait to go back there either πŸ™‚ I hope I’ll get to return this coming winter πŸ™‚

  6. Wow! Your photos made me want to travel more in the Philippines. I am from the Philippines, but I prefer traveling elsewhere. I think I traveled to more foreign cities than in the Philippines. I need to go to Siquijor!!! BTW, thank you for sharing these amazing places in the Philippines. All the best to you.

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